Water Quality

Private Drinking Water

Glass of water with ice - Private Drinking WaterPrivate Drinking Water Systems

A majority of U.S. residents receive drinking water from federally regulated systems that are equipped with advanced technologies to ensure clean water standards are met under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  However, nearly 15 percent of Americans rely on private drinking water systems that are not protected by the SDWA. These systems serve fewer than 25 people or have less than 15 connections. They are typically private wells but also include springs, cisterns, and hauled water systems.

Because the lack of required testing and monitoring, UDWS pose a unique public health challenge. 


NEHA Resources:

Coming January 8th! Safe Water Program Improvement e-Learning Series 

NEHA is happy to announce the launch of the online class: Safe Water Program Improvement (SWPI). Created in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Network of Public Health Institutes, Texas Health Institutes, Tulane University, and NEHA, SWPI provides information and resources for improving health department programs on household wells, springs, cisterns, and other drinking water sources. The training is free and available online, and continuing education units are available from the NEHA upon completing the courses and final evaluation.

Private Well Class

NEHA is excited to partner with the Illinois State Water Survey to bring you this no-cost, online education opportunity!

The Private Well Class is being provided to NEHA at no-charge by the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center at the University of Illinois. The funding for the Private Well Class program comes from the USEPA through a cooperative agreement with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. Originally intended for well owners, this course has proven to be a resource for EH professionals for basic well and groundwater understanding. The class consists of 10 courses that can be taken in sequence or individually and are eligible for one (1) CE each from NEHA.

To take the course, visit , http://nehacert.org/.


EH Topics: 

NEHA’s Policy Priorities on Water

Environmental health is profoundly local and environmental health professionals mediate some of the most intimate parts of our lives: the food we place in our baby’s mouths, the control of insects like mosquitos, and the water that rehydrates children after play time. Environmental health professionals save money, saves lives and protect the future

Only 28 states currently require a credential that is an impartial, third-party endorsement of an individual’s professional knowledge and experience.


Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems

Onsite wastewater treatment systems, frequently called decentralized systems, refers to any system used to treat and dispose of/recycle wastewater from homes, businesses, industrial facilities, and sometimes entire communities. Septic systems usually serve up to 20 people, oftentimes individual households or small businesses, and include a septic tank and soil absorption field. The frequency of septic systems varies by region, ranging from ten to over fifty percent of homes in some states. Larger, more complex systems use advanced treatment units which treat and discharge to surface waters or the soil. When used properly, onsite systems protect public health and the environment by reducing disease transmission and removing pollution from surface and groundwater. Individual onsite systems are typically regulated by states, tribes and local governments, while large capacity septic systems are regulated by the EPA.

Environmental Health professionals play an important role in managing onsite wastewater treatment systems. Septic system professionals are involved in installing, operating, maintaining, and repairing onsite systems. Professionals with local or state health departments evaluate potential sites for onsite systems, issue permits or licenses for technicians, conduct inspections, and enforce local regulations. Additionally, environmental health professionals partner with industries involved in developing land containing buildings using onsite systems to ensure that these treatment systems continue to discharge clean and usable water.    


Recent Updates

NEHA renews the Decentralized Wastewater Management Memorandum of Understanding Partnership

NEHA is part of a select group of national organizations that signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US EPA to improve the quality and quantity of resources and education available to professionals in the wastewater field, state and local regulatory agencies, and those whose work involves building on or buying/selling land with dwellings that will use an onsite system. This past month NEHA participated in a renewal meeting and signing ceremony to continue collaboration between the EPA and other decentralized system partners. NEHA is excited to be a part of improving decentralized wastewater management by aiding consumers and professionals in the field. 


Available Wastewater Resources & Programs

The How Your Septic System Can Impact Nearby Water Sources tool is a newly published set of interactive diagrams which illustrate the relationship between septic systems and drinking water, septic systems and surface water, and ways to improve septic systems and better protect nearby water sources. These resources provide homeowner outreach and education to improve use and maintenance of residential septic systems. An example of the diagrams can be found to the left.   

EPA Septic Wiki

EPA Decentralized MOU Partnership

NEHA Certified Installer of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (CIOWTS) - National credential to certify installers of onsite wastewater treatment systems. The credential covers all forms of installation and is offered at both basic and advanced levels.



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